Thursday, February 17, 2011

Expiring Soon

If you live in Chicagoland and haven't heard about it yet, a certain food store chain was just put on life support. My prediction? They're not long for this world. In fact you might say they're past their expiration date.

Oh wait. That's the food they sell. Ironically, last month this particular chain announced that they would no longer be accepting expired coupons from customers (they were one of the last chains to do so). Now it appears that instead, they're selling expired food to customers.

Honestly? This is scary stuff. Things are changing rapidly in the relationships between retailers and consumers. With the Internet empowering the masses through aggregating of information and deals, retailers have been scrambling to find a new business model. And in some cases, the backlash toward their customers has been disappointing. This story seems to be yet another instance of customers being jerked around and played for fools. Only in this case it's downright dangerous. How many people have been unknowingly sickened from eating expired food that they just purchased from the grocery store?

I will say that we've had one or two instances in the past year where food that I presumed was "fresh" because I'd recently bought it had a funky taste. I've not been one to inspect expiration dates on anything other than milk - until now.

The expired food incident will not be the cause of the company's demise. It will simply be the final blow to an already weak and failing enterprise. How am I so sure? On any given day the parking lot of my neighborhood grocer in this chain is generally wide open, while their competitor across the street has a jammed lot. After this news, any remaining loyal customers may be leery of shopping there. Me? I'd been mostly avoiding it due to hastles I'd had on every single trip I made there. Now? I won't risk my family's health by shopping there.

Disclaimer: I have not independently verified the allegations purported in the linked blog post. At this point, with the grocery chain in question rapidly working to remove any possible expired food, the opportunity to verify is gone. It has also been brought to my attention that consuming past date food is not as serious as I have made it seem (although selling it alongside fresher food without calling it to customer's attention I still believe is bad business). And I don't agree with those bringing the allegations that food only weeks past it's expiration date should be called into question the way older products are - some of what they pulled off shelves crossed the line to make a point. That was unnecessary.

I also want to acknowledge that I have allowed my own personal dealings with one location to color my perceptions of the company as a whole. I do know for certain that there is at least one store in this chain in the Western Suburbs that works hard to satisfy their customers and treat them with due respect.

I'll leave you with an official statement from the company in question regarding the expired food allegations: "[Our] customers rightly expect they will find only high-quality, fresh products at all of our stores."

1 musings:

Llama Momma said...

Whenever I'm in a huge hurry, I shop at D's...because there's never a line!! I always wonder how they can afford to stay in business...